Why Thor: Ragnarok’s Editor Thinks We Should Stop Caring About Movie Runtimes

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Before the release of any major blockbuster, it's not uncommon to see headlines reporting the film's exact length. Or for fans to try and figure out what that length means about the film -- such as if it's too long or short. That said, I recently sat down for a chat with Thor: Ragnarok editor Zene Baker during a press day at Marvel Studios, and he told me that he thinks everyone needs to stop placing so much emphasis on a movie's runtime, because filmmakers rigorously workshop their projects to a proper duration. Baker explained:

My feelings on that? I honestly, I hate it when a movie draws out its welcome. I think in some cases you have to trust the instincts of the filmmakers, because we're all taking into consideration how many times we've tested it. How are our test audiences feeling about it? How are we feeling about it? Some people love long movies, but our team on Thor, we were like 'We don't really like long movies.'

For the sake of context, Thor: Ragnarok clocks in at two hours and ten minutes in length from the very opening to the final post-credits scene, and that's relatively short compared to other 2017 comic book films such as Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, or Wonder Woman. That length was decided on early in the film's development process, and it worked for what the Thor: Ragnarok team wanted to accomplish with the movie. Judging it off of that length and comparing it to other longer or shorter comic book movies is a futile effort, because every different team involved in every different superhero film chooses a distinct runtime for a specific reason.

One of the main spurs of this conversation had nothing to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I addressed this because of the somewhat polarized response to recent revelations that Zack Snyder's Justice League only clocks in around two hours in length, thus possibly making it the shortest DC film by a substantial margin. Some fans responded positively to the abridged duration, while others seemingly took offense to it as a potential indicator of low quality or an uneven story because Batman v Superman's Ultimate Edition took three hours to tell arguably the best version of its own story.

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However, Zene Baker doesn't necessarily think that either of those responses applies. Justice League is roughly two hours long because the people involved wanted to make a two-hour movie -- just like how the people involved in making Thor: Ragnarok wanted a shorter Marvel movie. relative to films like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Captain America: Civil War. Looking at the length of any story and using that to gauge its quality preemptively ultimately ignores all of the other significant factors that feed into its success or failure.

Thor: Ragnarok is now in theaters and making more money than you could hope to fit in Odin's trophy room. Make sure to check out Thor's relatively lean solo movie, and stay tuned for more updates about his next adventure with Earth's mightiest heroes when Avengers: Infinity War premieres on May 4, 2018. Here's everything that we currently know about the upcoming Avengers team-up.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.